Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, November 02, 2018, Page 9, Image 9

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    November 2, 2018
site of proposed
116-acre rezone
Board approves $4.3 million loan for
North Fremont Canal System upgrade
Capital Press
ke R
Area in
Capital Press graphic
1-acre home
lots planned
for farmland
near city in
SW Idaho
Capital Press
A proposed 116-acre
conversion of southwest
Idaho farmland to 1-acre
home lots would alter some
irrigation infrastructure but
would not impact the seg-
ment of a canal that lies on
part of the property.
The Canyon County
Planning and Zoning Com-
mission on Oct. 18 endorsed
Lone Star Land LLC’s pro-
posal to rezone the property
near Caldwell from agri-
cultural to R-1 residential,
characterized by an average
of one lot per acre. The Can-
yon County Board of Com-
missioners is scheduled to
consider final approval on
Dec. 18.
Retired farmer Rich-
ard Huff owns the proper-
ty, which in the past year
produced wheat and field
corn. His son, Sam Huff,
said the property includes
an area where another farm-
er grows echinacea flow-
ers on contract, which will
continue until the contract
The Huff family owns
about 300 acres of farm-
land. The Lone Star por-
tion is sloping and sandy,
and not as productive as
the rest, Sam Huff said.
The development would
not affect irrigation on
neighboring properties, he
On-site water infrastruc-
ture includes a well, three
gravity irrigation ditches
and Deer Flat Canal. Any
crossing of the canal, bor-
dered by federal easements
on two sides, would require
a crossing agreement among
the developer, the U.S. Bu-
reau of Reclamation and
Boise Project Board of Con-
trol, a Canyon County Plan-
ning and Zoning staff report
The Boise Project stores
water behind two of the
three Boise River dams, op-
erates a large canal system,
services five irrigation dis-
tricts and operates the Lake
Lowell off-site reservoir.
Plans call for removing
ditches and replacing the
gravity irrigation system
with a pressurized system,
said project representa-
tive John Cotner of Cotner
Building Co. Nothing would
be done to Deer Flat
The Idaho Water Resource
Board on an Oct. 23 confer-
ence call approved a 20-year,
$4.3 million loan to North
Fremont Canal System for a
phase of the Marysville gravi-
ty-pressurized irrigation pipe-
line project northeast of Idaho
The phase involves build-
ing a new diversion structure
and converting 17.8 miles
of open canal to 16 miles of
gravity-pressurized pipeline
to serve participating irriga-
tors across about 2,784 acres
of farmland in Fremont Coun-
ty, the board said in a release.
It aims to conserve 2,400 acre-
feet of irrigation water lost
to seepage and evaporation,
increase public safety by re-
moving open canals, and save
about 1,200 kilowatt-hours
Idaho Water Resource Board
Work continues on efficiency and safety improvements to the
North Fremont Canal System in Fremont County, Idaho.
of electricity by removing
pumping facilities.
North Fremont Canal Sys-
tem President Sean Maupin
said about 40 large pumps
will be phased out. “You can
spend $7,000 to $8,000 just
to start up those pumps,” he
Power savings are expect-
ed to cover most of the in-
creased per-acre assessment
that participating farmers
will pay to cover the loan
cost, and the project will not
cause the Eastern Snake Plain
Aquifer to lose water, he said.
Board staff member Rick
Collingwood said the pipe-
line project’s efficiency will
“improve delivery of water
to shareholders so they can
receive their full allocation of
water during the peak period
of the irrigation season.”
The pipeline also will
eliminate what has been a
potential safety hazard, the
open canal running through
Ashton and bordering a part
of an elementary school
property. The board said the
project also is expected to
improve water quality by
eliminating irrigation return
flows to Henry’s Fork of the
Snake River, reduce noxious
weeds in open canals, and
improve seasonal air quality
by eliminating the need to
burn vegetation along canal
and ditch systems.
The $11.1 million proj-
ect phase also is funded by
a $6.8 million grant from
the Natural Resources Con-
servation Service. Construc-
tion is expected to start later
this fall and conclude for the
spring 2019 crop season.
Before the state board ap-
proved the new loan, North
Fremont Canal System had
a loan balance of $1.6 mil-
lion, having accelerated loan
payments at times to reduce
interest, a board official said.
The board earlier ap-
proved loans, for project
phases, of $2.5 million in
2013, $1.1 million in 2008
and $625,000 in 2007. The
current phase is the most ex-
tensive, and another phase
is expected in three to five
Harvest-assist machines join forces for faster apple picking
Capital Press
WAPATO, Wash. — It was
a tight squeeze in the 10-foot-
wide rows. A few limbs lad-
ened with Fuji apples were
broken as the Bandit Xpress-
DBR harvest assist platform
navigated the Valicoff Fruit
Co. orchard.
Four pickers filled the first
bin in 20 minutes without us-
ing picking bags or ladders.
That was decent, but in
time the crew got faster.
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
The crew was learning on
the job with a Burrows Trac- The Bandit Xpress-DBR apple harvest machine. The driver and two pickers in front are higher than
tor representative and Robert the two pickers aft. The vacuum tubes feed apples to a bin filler in the middle. The machine picks up
Valicoff, president of Valicoff empty bins in front and deposits full ones out the rear for tractors to haul away.
Fruit, shouting instructions
tested the Bandit Xpress-DBR
such as not putting too many
along with smaller companies
apples at once into the small,
like Valicoff Fruit.
padded buckets strapped to the
“Everybody wants to try it
workers’ chests that fed vacu-
um tubes leading to the apple
and the feedback is good. Peo-
ple are surprised that it doesn’t
bruise the apples, which is
H-2A visa foreign guest-
workers from Mexico, they
what everyone is focused on,”
spoke little English but said
Dagorret said.
they liked the new system.
Honeycrisp apples are
As J.J. Dagorret, inven-
sensitive to bruising, but the
tor of the Bandit Xpress,
bruising rate with the machine
says, pickers take to the Ban-
is just 6.4 percent, which is a
dit-DBR “like ducks to water” Fuji apples softly enter bins via the rubberized bin filler of the
good low number, he said.
because they don’t have the Bandit Xpress-DBR harvest assist machine at Valicoff Fruit Co.,
The vacuum tubes are
weight of conventional pick- Wapato, Wash.
9 feet long and suck apples
ing bags and the added work
through at a rate of 15 feet per
“he built it just like we drew vacuum tube and bin filler second. A decelerator slows
of dumping them into bins.
The goal is to have the it.” Dagorret said he presented could be placed on the Bandit them down for the bin filler.
Bandit Xpress-DBR commer- the design they talked about.
Xpress. Dagorret was game.
The main issue, Dagorret
cially available through Bur-
Valicoff bought one of the Brown had designed and built said, is training pickers to al-
rows next year. It’s likely the first platforms in 2013 but a much larger machine that low a split second between ap-
last picking innovation short hasn’t been able to use it as never caught on because of its ples they place in their padded
buckets that feed the tubes so
of robots. All of it is important much as he would like because size.
because the supply of orchard he doesn’t have enough newer
This harvest season the apples don’t collide with each
labor has been growing tighter plantings and it doesn’t work Bandit Xpress-DBR has been other as they decelerate. Pick-
for years.
as well in older plantings of field tested in Washington and ers in front have to remem-
Five years ago, Dag- larger trees.
California. It improves pick- ber to concentrate on picking
orret, owner of Automated
Dagorret says the Bandit ing efficiency by about 85 higher fruit and leave lower
Ag Systems of Moses Lake, Xpress is 35 percent more ef- percent over ladders and by 40 fruit for the pickers standing a
Wash., began selling his Ban- ficient and safer than pickers percent over the standard Ban- foot or so lower in the rear.
dit Xpress work platform for using ladders. He built and dit Xpress without the DBR,
The only other issues are
pruning and picking in or- sold 725 of them from 2013 Dagorret says.
machine noise and the bin fill-
chards. It eliminated ladders as through 2017 and is building
It can fill bins in 4 to 5 min- er filling two corners of a bin
pickers riding on the platform 65 this year, plus 65 Bandit utes versus 10 to 12 minutes faster than the other two cor-
picked into bags and dumped Cubs, which are 17 inches for pickers on a platform with ners. But those are both easy
fixes, Dagorret said.
bags into bins that the machine narrower. The Xpress sells for bags, he said.
His goal this summer
Large companies includ-
picked up for filling and then $64,000, the Cub for $68,000.
lowered for tractors to haul
Last winter, Phil Brown, ing Stemilt Growers LLC of and fall was to get as many
owner of DBR Conveyor Wenatchee, Zirkle Fruit of Se- growers trying it as possible
Valicoff said he helped Da- Concepts in Conklin, Mich., lah and Washington Fruit and to get feedback to work out
gorret draw the design and that asked Dagorret if the DBR Produce Co. of Yakima have any quirks before commercial
sales through Burrows next
“I wasn’t sure how pickers
would accept it because they
never like anything new. But
they love it because they no
longer have the weight of a
picking bag,” he said.
The DBR vacuum sys-
tem will sell for $35,000 to
$40,000 each and mount right
on the Xpress or Cub, Dag-
orret and Brown said.
The idea is a functional,
dependable product that is af-
fordable, they said.
Valicoff said he’s im-
pressed and would like to see
someone offer contracted use
to smaller growers like him-
self who may not want to buy
their own. He’s also interested
in contract robotic spraying
and mowing.
Valicoff said he sees the
machine as a bridge to robotic
picking that’s coming in two
to three years.
Brown said commercial ro-
botic harvesters are probably
five to six years away and are
slowed, as much as anything,
by needing trees designed for
robotic pruning and picking.
Several years ago, Dan
Steere, CEO of Abundant
Robotics, of Hayward, Calif.,
said he would have a robotic
apple picker in commercial
production in the fall of 2018.
That hasn’t happened. He de-
clined comment this month on
his continued field testing.
Avi Kahani, CEO of
FFRobotics, of Emeq-Heffer,
Israel, said his goal is to have
his robotic apple picker ready
for commercial use in the fall
of 2019. He was to field test it
this fall in Washington with the
Bandit Xpress-DBR and said
he still hopes to. Dagorret said
he’s hopeful but doubtful since
the season is winding down.
“If Avi gets his machine
here,” Dagorret said, “I think
we would blow right by Abun-
dant Robotics. Avi’s is elec-
trical hands grabbing the fruit
instead of a vacuum sucking
the fruit off the tree so it takes
a lot less horsepower and less